Thursday, February 18, 2010
Producers vs consumers
Far from being productive, many of us have fallen into the trap of this present age of being nothing more than consumers. We work so we can buy products that will help us perfect our consumerism. We live in an age where so many tools have been handed to us to be creative and yet we would rather be entertained by the few who do create. Of course being productive goes beyond just being creative; it has to do with doing things, even if it is merely sowing seeds of various kinds. Throughout our day we can be sowing seeds of kindness, love, gentleness, even peace. What we give out in the way of the fruit of the Spirit often produces similar actions and thoughts in the people we touch.
One of the worse places of consumerism at the moment is the Church. Since my childhood the saying has been "ten percent of the people do ninety percent of the work". If this was true when I was a child I am afraid to discover the percentages now. Jesus Christ did not die on the cross so that we could become "armchair" pastors. We were saved and left here because there is a mission to fulfill and we are not going to be productive in it if all we do is show up on Sunday, sing a few songs, give our dollar and then go home. The last thing Paul wrote to Titus was this:
Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives. (Titus 3:14)
To be honest I cannot relate to this. I cannot understand people who do not have a desire to live a productive life, especially as believers. Jesus taught a lot on being productive. In the conclusion of his parable on the seed and the various heart conditions he taught:
But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. (Matthew 13:23)
The Kingdom is all about multiplication, growth, producing. "Doing what is good" is a big part of the foundation of a productive life. The writer of Hebrews wrote:
Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. (Hebrews 6:7-8)
Remaining in a deep fellowship with Jesus allows for the "rains" of blessings to fall in our life which produces a crop for the Kingdom. I believe this is tied to a promise from the Old Testament which I have always clung to even in the worse days of my life. It is a blessing among a list of blessings that were promised to Israel; blessings that would flow from God as a result of the nations obedience:
The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. (Deuteronomy 28:12)
Throughout the Old Testament we read this promise to "bless the work of your hands". What always struck me was that God did not promise to do the work for us but instead he would bless it. For me it meant that I would produce more than was natural for me to produce on my own. That's what I desire for my life; I want my life to be used to produce more for the Kingdom than I ever could produce on my own. It begins with those seeds of the fruit of the Spirit, of doing what is good. Without those seeds we will never see a crop produced and we can't seed the crop while we are sitting on our hands. Face it, we have been called to serve not to sit.
It is time that we do more than just consume what others have been producing. We need to get our work clothes on and get out there to do something. Look around to see where God is working and ask him if you can join him there. It will transform your relationship with Jesus and will take you to new places of trust and understanding. It will be hard at times, hard enough that you will feel like you are being crushed, but in everything you will produce and you will be victorious; it has been promised to us. To God be the glory.